EXCLUSIVE: Cockfighter defends KY's illegal, high-dollar industr - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

EXCLUSIVE: Cockfighter defends KY's illegal, high-dollar industry detailed in court document

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Cockfighting recently was made a federal crime. Cockfighting recently was made a federal crime.
Danny Milner is a Kentucky coordinator for the Gamefowl Defense Network. Danny Milner is a Kentucky coordinator for the Gamefowl Defense Network.

CORINTH, KY (WAVE) – In 2001, when I went undercover with Humane Society of the United States investigators to a cockfighting event in Williamsburg, the crime was a misdemeanor. The theater seating in Roost Arena was filled with hundreds of men, women and children.

In March, when I recorded a Kentucky state representative and candidate for U.S. Senate speaking at a cockfighting rally, the bloodsport had just been made a federal crime.

[PREVIOUS STORY: EXCLUSIVE: Politicians at cockfighting rally caught on video]

"Our mantra is change the law rather than break the law," said Danny Milner, a Kentucky coordinator for the Gamefowl Defense Network.

But before cockfighting advocates could make any progress on changing the law, the law pounced after a recent cockfighting event for hundreds at the Big Blue pit in McDowell, Kentucky. An unsealed affidavit details:

  • license plates from all across the country.
  • laminated IDs issued to the 6,000 members stored in their computer system.
  • legal guidance they sought which concluded the new law was weak and would not affect their fighting operations in Kentucky because the Farm Bill used the word 'animal' instead of 'fowl.'

"The bust at McDowell, that was a big blow to a lot of people," said Milner.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Bevin issues statement after WAVE 3 News cockfighting investigation]

Cockfighters seldom do interviews, but the Kentucky coordinator of the Gamefowl Defense Network agreed to meet me near Corinth.

"Why is cockfighting, affixing gaffs, having the fights, sometimes to the death, not animal cruelty in your opinion?" I asked.

[WATCH VIDEO ON MOBILE DEVICES: Politicians at cockfighting rally captured on video]

"Well, a gamefowl is naturally predisposed to fighting," said Milner. "I could go to my house right now, take two roosters and they will knowingly fight another rooster. They will willingly fight another rooster, and they are conscious as to what the repercussions of their actions are. They know that if they lose, it could be their last fight."

I asked him about the federal affidavit, that claims:

  • entry fees are between $3,000 and $5,000 per entrant.
  • a vendor averaged $1,500 a weekend selling the fighting gaffs, or knives, fastened to the chickens.
  • a printed schedule, just for Big Blue pit, listed 34 days of organized animal fights.

"In Kentucky alone, this is honestly a $250 million a year industry," Milner said.

"Is Kentucky the battleground now, politically, for this showdown?" I asked.

"Politically, yes. Is it the cockfighting hub they claim us to be? Not so much," he said.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Cockfighting continues to plague U.S. Senate race] 

The affidavit also claims several young boys who appeared to be under 10 years old handled fighting cocks and placed the dead cocks in barrels after the fights. Some were still alive and moving around in the disposal barrel.

"Many people think we have this lust for blood, that we desire to be cruel and such, and we don't," said Milner. "There's no desire for blood loss at a gamefowl exhibition."

According to the affidavit, the owner of the McDowell pit told the cockfighters there are people in Kentucky government who are working with them to change the new law, people like Greg Stumbo, Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Both of them told WAVE 3 News last week that's not true.

Milner said the truth is, they're not sure right now who is with them politically and who's against them. To view the full affidavit, click here.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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